Thursday, April 24, 2014

ANZAC Day--its meaning is even more inportant now.

Today many thousands of New Zealanders braved the early morning chill to go out, many with their families to honour those whom have served NZ and Australia. We remember those young men (and women) who went off to fields far away, to lands they had only dreamed about, most with the idea that they were fighting for something special, but also with a sense of adventure. My own grandfather went to Egypt (That wasn't so bad, given the stories he told me when he visited for meals as Mum cook in the kitchen---I did tell her many years later and she just smiled)  and then onto the terrible battlefields of France, where he was gassed, went to England to recover and met my grandmother, so in a sense I owe it to that war for my very own existence. He brought that lovely nurse back to NZ, to become the parents of my dear mother.
It is wonderful to see the increasingly high attendances at these morning services of young people. They are gaining a sense of 'who we are' and an understanding of the bond between Australia and NZ, strained as it is in some aspects these days. All around the world at this time, NZers and Aussies stand together as they remember the sacrifices our forefathers made for our two nations.
In my younger days, I did not favour the ANZAC day ceremonies as I believed that the day was a glorification of war. I could not have been more wrong. As with most Kiwis now, we see those times as the 'coming of age' of both NZ and Australia. Sure there was an element of 'where Britain goes, so did we,' but that was an overhang from colonial days, and a period in our growth as a nation that was reflected in many other countries around the world. We have come of age and it is days like ANZAC day that show our understanding of that journey, along with an increasing knowledge of our own not so flattering history re Treaty of Waitangi issues.
Today is also a time when we look towards events in modern day Europe and wish for a peaceful resolution to the Ukrainian dilemma. I do not think that NZ would become involved in any unfortunate conflagration in that region, but whatever happens there, will have a ripple effect for us.
NZ has little influence of the world stage, but that should not stop us from speaking out to the main  protagonists, be they in Kiev, Moscow, Washington of the capitals of the EU. The ANZAC nations must speak with a united voice----for peace and a dignified resolution to this latest crisis that once again threatens world peace. It is also a time that Australia should examine how it lives alongside its cousins across the ditch. We can not afford to have divisions between us---no family should. 'Big bothers should not be bullies.